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Ideal data center components

Could you tell me the ideal components for a data center that will be around 5,000 sq. ft. and used for hosting enterprise solutions? What would be the average power and cooling requirements for the data center, and the approximate investment for same?

Editor's note: The author Robert E. McFarlane updated this data center design guide in 2015 for modern IT oper...

ations.

Could you tell me the ideal components for a data center that will be around 5,000 sq. ft. and used for hosting enterprise solutions? What would be the average power and cooling requirements for the data center, and the approximate investment for same?

There are many factors needed to define the design requirements and, consequently, the best components and costs. Even with that information, the complete answer to your question would be an extensive design document, and it would be irresponsible to suggest that it could be condensed to a few paragraphs. A 5,000 sq. ft. Data Center is not a small facility, and it deserves serious attention.

What I can do is to provide some of the major factors we use in developing the answers to your questions, and some idea of how we make use of them. (This is by no means complete. Our full checklist is pages in length.)

  1. The type of business, and the potential business losses (not just monetary) with Data Center outages of different durations. This is what ultimately determines redundancies and "availability" expectations, which may or may not be defined by Uptime Institute "Tier Levels". It also becomes one of the major determinants of cost.

  2. Present and predicted equipment growth levels. This ultimately determines equipment densities and cabinet counts, which are the basis of power and air conditioning requirements. Making this determination requires discussions of hardware types used in the business, and the way the company makes equipment upgrades (periodic as performance improves, requires significant justification, or only when something quits).

  3. Quantified growth, developed from the above information, which defines the timetable on which space is likely to be occupied, and whether "soft space" is recommended. This information determines how modular the infrastructure should be (primarily power, air conditioning and cabling.)

  4. Power and heat load projections by cabinet. This determines total UPS and Air Conditioning requirements, but also provides the density patterns, which are used to develop the room layout and, ultimately, the types, sizes, and placements of air conditioners and power distribution equipment. The range of tools we have available to us today is extensive, including a variety of UPS designs, power distribution approaches, and air conditioning solutions ranging from large and small CRAC units (Computer Room Air Conditioners) to modular above and in-cabinet systems, to water-cooled cabinets. Today, we try to prepare for everything, whether it goes in "Day 1" or not, and make use of whatever combination of solutions best suits the total needs of the organization and the facility.

  5. Building characteristics. We examine these simultaneously with the above items so as to avoid wasted effort, but the building is often a bigger factor than budgets in determining how close we can come to an "ideal" design. Building factors often wreak havoc with the budget.. Raised floor height is governed by the structural height of the space which, in turn, determines the efficiency of under-floor air if it is used. The availability of building power, chilled water, space for heat exchangers, floor loading capacity, access to freight elevators and loading docks, whether there are windows and if they can be covered, and myriad other issues, all influence what can be used and how the Data Center should be designed.

In short, there are no "stock solutions" – at least not if you're going to get what you should for the large investment you will make in a 5,000 sq. ft. facility. There are hundreds of inter-dependent factors, and a decision on one can affect decisions on several more, as well as costs. The Uptime Institute has done an excellent job of defining general requirements and estimated costs for facilities of different Availability Levels. This might help you set a direction.
 

This was last published in April 2006

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